Where is the conservative outrage on McCain/Palin's geographic warfare?


This is a snippet of one of Palin and other McCain surrogates favorite themes. I’m happy to provide more links, upon request.

I didn’t see any of the big conservative names on the Virginia-specific Pit thread on this. So I’m calling you out, Bricker-style. Conservatives, does this geographic warfare offend you?

I find it deeply offensive. Every bit as offensive as liberals referring to “flyover country,” and the like. In fact, more offensive because the implication to “flyover country” is that the middle of the country and small towns are boring and backwater. The implication here is that big cities are evil and sub-American. (And, of course, more offensive because it is coming out of a political campaign.)

Well, IANAC, nor do I play one on TV (though I seem to have that label around these parts), but…well, I’m not seeing this as being all that offensive. So, Palin is saying that the REAL America is in small towns and such? Well, that’s pretty much been the Republican party line (unofficially) for quite some time. It’s an appeal to emotion (small towns, apple pie, puppies and small children, white picket fences, flags waving in the breeze, wholesome and obediant wives looking at their husbands with shinning eyes, bibles with maybe a Monty Python Jesus rising up into the clouds) and while she probably believes that tripe it’s really just a political statement.

On the other hand I think your summation of what ‘flyover country’ really means is accurate…AND it’s pretty offensive (and really a stupid thing to say). What’s the difference? Well, one is a positive inclusion (i.e. ‘You guys in rural America are the REAL Americans! Blah blah blah’…as opposed to ‘You guys in fly over country are <whatever…less meaningful, less relevant…just less>. blah blah blah’).

Myself, it’s hard to get worked up about either really, though I think from a political and perception perspective Palin et al’s message plays better than the ‘flyover country’ meme. Both are pretty inane in the end.

What burns MY biscuit about conservatives is the social or quasi-religious issues they try and bring into the fray. If you want to talk about THAT I’ll give you as much outrage as you like.


While “flyover country” is part of the lexicon of urban culture, it has never been part of Democratic campaigns. That distinction alone makes this much more offensive.

But also, the implications imbedded in “flyover country” are stupid and wrong, but not nearly as malicious. It isn’t nearly as offensive as calling a whole group of Americans evil (less kind, less good, less courageous) for where they live. The fact that it has been standard Republican fare for some time now doesn’t diminish its offensiveness.

I know this wasn’t mentioned in the OP, but I don’t see how calling Northern Virginia ‘communist country’ is very positive. And saying that one region is ‘real America’ inextricably contains the connotation that everywhere else is ‘fake America’.

Some liberals may use ‘flyover country’ or a similar term but I can’t think of Democratic politicians , certainly at the national level, who do.

So the geographic divide between the ‘real’ America and the fake one seems to be mainly a conservative tactic.

Also, that the majority of the American population, which lives in the metropolitan areas and their exurbs, is not really American at all.

This is no worse than the populist Main St. v Wall Street tripe that has unfortunately characterized both sides of the debate. As both an urban liberal and a financial services type, I somewhat used to being abused by both parties. It is deeply offensive, pointlessly reductionist, and a cheap, easy dig.

shrug YMMV. Maybe Bricker et al will come in and give you their thoughts. To me it’s hard to get worked up about this, especially since it appeals to part of the American mythology of small town people being more down to earth, more patriotic, more stubborn and stoic, etc etc. I think this myth resonates with people and it’s the main reason it’s used.

And I think that it’s a positive message over all, as I said, where as the ‘flyover country’ is a negative one. You are right though that the Dems don’t officially use that term…and with good reason. However, I think that Obama and the Dems play on another great American myth, that of the honest working man just trying to scrape by while the evil corporations are always out to get him. This, like Palin/McCain/Republicans message is powerful and resonates with Americans…and like with what you are outraged by it holds a grain of truth in all the rhetoric…at least the perceptions of people make it a reality.


Suggesting that our economic policies have focused on the DJIA instead of the health of small businesses may be false, or misleading, but it isn’t maliciously calling some group of Americans evil because of where they live.

Why does the fact that it resonates make it less offensive? And how can you say it’s not negative? She’s saying these people are more kind, more good, more real, etc.

Well, I wasn’t addressing this statement with my own comments. I agree with you…THIS isn’t a positive message. Quite the contrary. It’s also stupid. Thing is, that no one party or campaign has a monopoly on positive messages, or doesn’t back slide into negative (and stupid) messages occasionally. If the Republicans whole platform was positive then they would probably be doing better in the polls this election. Over all I think Obama’s message is more positive (and less stupid) than McCain’s…which probably goes a long way in accounting for why he’s winning.


And “flyover country” isn’t so much a reference to the people as to the lack thereof.

I’m not saying this ought to be the issue that makes Conservatives vote for Obama. So there’s no point in suggesting that both sides have offensive themes. I’ll stipulate that.

But we should still be willing to recognize which of our side’s themes are offensive and seek to change them.

It’s a myth that resonates with people in rural areas. As someone who’s spent her whole life in urban areas, it’s pretty damn offensive. And given that most Americans (68% according to the last US census) live in cities of 50,000 or more, it’s implying that only a minority of the population are “real” Americans. How is that not divisive and negative?

I don’t even know how to address the offensive part here other than what I’ve already said…offense is in the mind of the beholder after all and people are offended by different things. I think that that perfect rural picture is something that is ingrained in our collective consciousness or mythology of what is America…even if the reality is something completely different. It resonates with a lot of people because it’s an ideal. People living in cities (which I do) don’t take offense (IMHO…usually, obviously you are an exception) because we have been brought up with the idea of all that apple pie and farms and puppies and patriotism in rural America. That this isn’t reality is beside the point since perceptions shape what is or isn’t reality.

As for why it’s not negative…she is saying people are more kind, more good, etc…this is a positive message. If she were saying people were less kind or good (directly instead of by implication) then it would be a negative message. I can’t explain it better than that. Hopefully someone less loony than I and more eloquent will come along to explain it better.


I agree with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show about this stuff. A hearty “fuck you” to the people who do it. I live in a city of 100,000, and from the top of the hill near my house I can see a lot of California’s central valley farmland. I like all of these Americans. And they are all American. And all these areas are pro-American and real American.

The Republicans have been busy dividing the nation for many years.Republicans from all over like to call Massachusetts: Taxachusetts. Apparently “San Francisco values” are regularly run down by loser Republicans like blowhard Bill O’Reilly, who never won a Peabody. Republicans are dividers, not uniters.

I’m far from alone in feeling this way. Trust me.

And I get that it is tied into the American mythos. So are lots of offensive things. I don’t see why that matters.

That just doesn’t make sense though. You can’t say someone is more good without implying that someone else is less good. It is an implication demanded by deductive logic. If I say that unlike Sarah Palin, Barack Obama is not an insane demon sent to devour the Earth, does that make my message less offensive?

I’m not a conservative either, but maybe there’s no outrage because they understand that this statement, while perhaps mildly offensive, is meaningless. It’s like “hard working Americans” (what, everybody else is lazy?), or for that matter, Democrats or Republicans. It does divide people up to some small degree, and it’s stupid, but it really doesn’t mean anything.

But what pisses me off most about it is that I live in small town America. Delray, part of Alexandria, VA is a small town. We have our little parades. We have a main street. We have a hardware store that will tell you what tool you need and give you any necessary tips. We fly the flag. Kids walk to school, or ride the big yellow buses. They play little league at the field next door to my house. We are down to earth, stubborn, stoic, patriotic.

We are also a DC suburb, exceptionally liberal, and somehow not part of “real” Virginia.

I agree that extolling the virtues of small-town America is tried and true political boilerplate, hardly worth noticing.

But Palin raised the bar, subtly, by including the “pro-” in her description. She didn’t merely imply that small-towns are great places; she implicitly (almost explicitly) said everybody else is anti-American. And that’s just flat out wrong, bad, stupid, insulting and indefensible.

It’s one thing to praise small towns, they have a lot of very convincing charms. But to do it in a way that slams everywhere else is rude and divisive. And it’s political. It’s us and them. Pro-American and by implication not pro-American.